HThe hardest bit is trying to enter the mindset of a professional footballer who, during a meaningless touchline tangle after his team has taken an unassailable 3-0 lead, receives no contact to his face but goes down clutching it as if someone has just whacked him with a sideways blow from a sledgehammer.
Luke O’Nien has been cleared by the FA disciplinary bods of committing the imaginary offence for which Peterborough United’s Ivan Toney managed to have him sent off. I do not know whether Toney has form for this kind of simulation but if he has a shred of dignity and decency, he should apologise now.
If the Chronicle’s excellent James Hunter is right, Toney could even say sorry without worrying about further inconvenience. You and I might think he should now be starting a two-match ban; James thinks his luck will hold out:
It looks like he’s got away with it. Last season, when there was a similar incident in the Leeds v Villa game, the appeal result was announced at the same time as the deception charge. No mention of Toney being charged this time
— James Hunter (@JHunterChron) September 3, 2019
There are, as you might expect, Peterborough fans out there who see no harm in what Toney did. Some cry sour grapes, other simply take the hard-of-thinking route, denying wrongdoing on Toney’s part.
One Posh fan with whom I have exchanged tweets praises the player for his “quality again today”. With assorted qualifications, he says the player’s simulation was “not good for the game” and “unacceptable”, a commendable view to take. He points to a wretched tackle by Wyke, the one that got him his second yellow and, on my limited viewing, looked a straight red sort of challenge.
But this debate is about cheating to get an opposing player dismissed. I would be appalled if a Sunderland player did what Toney did and would regard a retrospective punishment as fully deserved.
It goes without saying that if Ivan Toney feels hard done by anything we have said, he has the right to reply and these pages are open to him. Using this e-mail address reaches us.
Please read this comment posted by our deputy editor Malclom Dawson:
Two (and a bit) questions for the EFL.
1. Is Toney going to suffer any punishment for his play acting? There is a precedent – Patrick Banford of Leeds received a two game ban after a similar incident against Villa.
2. This is the 2nd time referee Craig Hicks has had his decision to give a Sunderland player a straight red card overturned, having sent Max Power off at Walsall last season. Will someone speak to him and advise him that in future he should consider his decisions more carefully before sending a player off (especially a Sunderland player)?
And a supplementary – will his performance be taken into account for future games involving SAFC?
Open to the Salut! Sunderland jury ….